CAB: Cable TV Gains Audience vs. Broadcasters

In half-year primetime ratings, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau said ad-supported cable networks widened their lead in adults 18-49 to 23% versus broadcasters compared with a 3% advantage in 2007.

The 14-week Writers Guild of America strike, which interrupted TV series, was a factor crimping TV broadcasters in the 26-week half-year period.

The CAB -- which analyzed Nielsen Media Research Live+7 primetime ratings -- calculated a 22.8 rating for cable networks in adults 18-49 versus a an 18.5 for broadcasters, which translates to the 23% gap. The cable figure aggregated 77 ad-supported basic-cable networks and seven broadcasting networks, including affiliate programming.

In the same period one year ago, the gap was just 3% at a 21.1 rating for cable networks and 20.4 for broadcasters.

In the adults 18-24 demo, cable enlarged its difference with broadcasters to 76% for the half-season versus 39% a year ago. The 76% was calculated from a 4.5 rating for cablers versus 2.5 for broadcasters. The CAB noted that despite predictions that people 18-24 are deserting TV for new media, they remain loyal TV viewers. Cable gained in this demo from one year earlier, when its rating was lower, at 3.9.

“The midterm data demonstrate that cable programming drove the growth of the TV audience during the first half of this year,” CAB president Sean Cunningham said in a statement.